The superscan in the prior posting, which showed a ‘freckle’ in the right lung, has now created an anxious patient and family. This patient’s worry will be heightened when he is sent to a pulmonologist, or lung expert, to evaluate the ‘abnormality’, which was found entirely by accident. The lung specialist will then advise the patient to have periodic CAT scans over the next 2 years to assure that they lesion does not enlarge. Obviously, this exercise diminishes quality of life and costs plenty of money that could be used to help truly sick people. And, if the nodule does increase in size – which even benign lesions can do – then the doctor may recommend surgery just in case it is cancerous. Consider what tens of thousands of Americans endure evaluating abnormalities that should never have been discovered or investigated.
Millions of us are walking around with innocent imperfections in our internal organs. In other words, if any of us were to undergo a CAT scan, many of us would have abnormalities described by vigilant radiologists.
Sure, some folks have been saved by having cancers discovered early. If I or a family member were one of them, I might have a different view of this issue than I do now. However, these occasional accidental rescues must be balanced against the enormous financial expenditures, anxiety costs, radiation exposures and direct harm from medical complications that result from these medical cascades. I am convinced that the harm outweighs the good.
So, when your doctor recommends a CAT scan, you may feel that there is no risk from a non-invasive study. Think again. The CAT scan may be the match that lights the fuse.